When people refer to a legal separation in Florida, they may be referring to one of two things.
First, in a divorce, legal separation can refer to the date in which two spouses started living separate lives. This if often called the date of separation.
The date of separation is important since it can determine how a court will divide a couple’s property.
For example, if a person acquires property after the date of separation, then ordinarily they will keep that property outright despite their divorce.
Depending on how long a divorce takes, a date of separation can be months or even years before a couple is legally divorced.
While this is an overview, the date of separation is a legal determination that could depend on a lot of circumstances. A person should ask an experienced family law attorney if they have any questions about how a date of separation might apply in their cases.
Florida law does not allow for legal separations as opposed to divorces
Unlike most states, Florida has no such thing as legal separation or anything like it. Many other states allow for legal separations.
In these states, legal separation allows a couple to remain married but still obtain court orders for the division of property, child custody and support and the like.
If a Florida couple wants to end their relationship and get court orders to protect them, a divorce may be the best alternative.
For any number of reasons, many people might not be ready to take this step. There are some other options that they may want to consider.
For one, Florida law allows parents to get court orders for custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support without going through a divorce.
However, courts will not order property divided except in a divorce proceeding. The couple could take a number of other steps with regard to their property:
- They could divide the property themselves outside of court.
- The could draft a separation agreement. While this agreement is non-binding, it still is helpful in that it documents how the couple chose to divide their property.
- The could draft a postnuptial agreement which can set some ground rules for the couple regarding their property. These rules could also cover what would happen should the couple divorce in the future.